7 common excuses that hold women back

How many are common for you?

It doesn’t matter whether you have an abundance of knowledge, skills, experience or anything else…if you use excuses, they will hold you back from achieving your potential.  Excuses are limiting and they’re also destructive.  They’re like handcuffs holding us in mediocrity.  And we’re the only ones who hold the keys to our freedom.

You may often hear yourself say some of the following:

I’m not ready
It’s not the right time
I’m not good enough
I’m too old/young
I don’t have enough time

I don’t have enough experience
Maybe I’m not meant to do it
It’s too hard
It will take too long
I may do it wrong
People will talk about me

Let me share with you the 7 most common excuses I hear from women that hold them back from achieving their career ambitions.

1. I Don’t Have Enough Time

I’ve worked with women who are full-time workers and full-time mothers. Not to mention those who are also studying an MBA, or launching a business!

When I hear “I don’t have time,” I take this as the notion that you are not in control of your life. Take back control by saying, “No.” It’s okay to say no to things. It is easier to say know when you know what’s really important.  So work out your important priorities, those that will have the biggest impact in the short and long term, and say yes to them, and no to the other things.  This will free up your time. You actually do have the time, if you make it important enough.

2. I’m not good enough

You might worry that you are not talented enough, brave enough or lucky enough to achieve your ambitions.

More than 80% of women believe they’re not good enough. They feel they don’t measure up in some way. They fall short when it comes to their skills, success in career, experience and so on.  80% of us!

Many women compare themselves to other people, and I can assure you that the people who seem to have it all, do not.  We are all imperfect human beings going through the same challenges that we all go through.

And then there’s that crippling feeling that you get when you find more wrong with yourself, than right with yourself. There’s a great quote from Jon Kabat-Zinn, Professor of Medicine Emeritus and the creator of the Stress Reduction Institute, “Until you stop breathing, there’s more right with you than wrong with you.”

Start focusing on the talents that you do have, the skills you have developed, the experience that you have created, and more.  Act like an Accountant with a balance sheet.  Put the positives on one side and the opportunities on the other.  Remember, the opportunities should be the must haves to achieve your goal, not a laundry list of everything that you want to change.  Be kind to yourself.

3. It’s too hard

If achieving your goals was easy then everyone would be doing it. We’d all hit our goals and be frolicking through tulip fields singing “Kumbaya”.

The grand scheme of a goal can often be daunting. The goal itself may appear so large that you don’t even know how to get started. This is when we need to focus on making progress, baby steps.

Just like a baby learning to walk. We don’t focus on them walking straight up. We expect they will crawl, then pull themselves up to standing, take small steps, take a few more, until they finally have the action of one foot in front of the other.  Don’t put pressure on yourself to walk straight up, think about the baby steps that will get you on track to achieve your goals.

When I was training a couple of years ago for a half marathon (22kms), I set goals at first to be able to run 8kms.  Once I got there, my next goal was the City to Surf (14kms).  Then my goal was the half marathon.

So if a goal feels overwhelming, divide your goal into smaller ones. Focus on achieving each goal and celebrate the progress that you make.

4.    It’s Not The Right Time To Start

There’s never a right time to start. The only time to start is right now. Do it while you’re still breathing, because something will always come up – an unexpected bill, a chore, or a child. You’ll be kicking yourself later down the road because you didn’t work for that goal. There are few things in life that hurt more than regret. You don’t want to be in that boat.  So, if it’s important enough – Just Do It!

5.    I’m Afraid

Being afraid is quite a natural thing, as long as you don’t allow it to consume you. Fear can not only make you miserable, but can also limit your capabilities.

There will always be fear. The most successful people in the world are fearful of something. But they have the courage to move past the fear.

A small amount of fear is a good thing. It means it is a big enough goal that is worth pursuing. If you set a goal that doesn’t scare you, just a little, then you might as well take it off the list, because it will be easy to give-up on.

Reduce the fear considering:

  • How you can be supported by others
  • Times where you have done this in the past and it worked well
  • Strategies to make the journey safer.   When I coach people who are freaking our about a job interview, I suggest they complete some practice questions by writing them out, then role playing an interview with someone who they feel safe with.

From there, turn your fear into excitement. Tell yourself, “Challenge accepted – I’ve got this”.

6.    I’m Too Old/Young

I’m too fat, I’m too skinny, I’m too short, I’m too tall, I’m too young, I’m too old…how many times have I heard these phrases?  I’ve heard them in my head, I’ve heard them come out of my own mouth, and I have certainly heard them hundreds of time from women I have worked with.

Use your youth to your advantage. You have time, and health. Look at the wonderful things about being young and leverage them.  If I was to give advice to my younger self, I would say….Make the most of this time that you have – you have energy, enthusiasm, you’re relatively free from obligations and responsibility.  Now is the time to focus on you, your career, your development.  You are surrounded by people who have more experience than you.  Learn what you can from those people – skills, wisdom, mistakes, and more – as they are at a stage of their career where they want to help others.

And for those ladies who think they’re too old.  As women we are writing the history books as each day goes by.  In 1920 the average marriage age for a woman was 21.  In 2015, this was almost 30 years of age.  Similarly, four decades ago, the median age of females giving birth was 25, while today it is 30.  So many of the ‘normal’ statistics for women are changing, so there is no measure that exists, other than how we measure ourselves.

Stop measuring ourselves versus what we should be and start focusing on what we want to be.  Then look at what makes us unique and valued, just the way we are.

7. What Will Others Think?

Why does this matter? Do what makes you happy and stop caring about what the world will think. Whether you are bankrupt or you win the Nobel Prize, you can’t stop people from talking positively or negatively about you. It is not your job to make everyone like you or to make everyone approve the steps you are taking. Your responsibility is to give every dream you have, your best shot.

The late Dr Wayne Dyer once said, “What other people think of me is none of my business”.  Focus on what you think of you.

If you want to learn more about letting go of excuses and finding solutions to achieving your career goals, then check out C-School.  A program designed to be a pivot point that will take your career to an extraordinary level.

If you want to learn more about letting go of excuses and finding solutions to achieving your career goals, then I suggest you check out C-School. A program designed to be a pivot point that will take your career to an extraordinary level.

Question: What excuses are you making that are stopping you from realising your potential?  You can leave your comment below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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